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Can you imagine as a high school student sitting down and highlighting your work with the Lt. Governor and the CEO of a global insurance company?  Neither did I when I first signed up for Waukee APEX in the Finance, Banking & Investments sector.  At Waukee APEX, networking opportunities are only the tip of the iceberg. Let me explain.

One of the first projects I took the lead on was helping an event planning company, LS2 Group, prepare for the Global Insurance Symposium in downtown Des Moines. This project has various aspects including attendance trend and exit survey analysis as well as recruiting a team of APEX associates to execute the actual event plans. This event, slated for late April, will be attended by over 500 insurance professionals, many of whom are major decision-makers within their organizations. Through working on this project, I have been able to build various professional skills such as spreadsheet development and analysis, project/ team management, and effective communication skills through various means.

Additionally, I was heavily involved in the development of the open house experience for the Finance, Banking, and Investments sector in regards to the grand opening of the Waukee Innovation and Learning Center. My major role was in creating an activity to showcase our sector’s importance. A simple activity quickly turned into a complex spreadsheet program that simulates forty years of saving for retirement. The simulation mixes aspects of insurance and investing as well as real-world data and situations to create a product that tells a player how well they prepared for retirement based on various decisions they made as well as events that were out of their control. I used my connections that I made through the program to get feedback on improvements that could be fixed. Ray Hansen, from Kidder Advisers, was a professional that gave me a lot of feedback to improve the product. He has also given me various ideas for future iterations.

Through opportunities in the program, I was able to sit down with the Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and the CEO of Principal Financial Dan Houston to show them the product I had created. Creating this simulation provided extensive practice in spreadsheets as well as insights into the world of financial planning and what decisions should be made in life to prepare for retirement effectively.

Waukee APEX has provided me with the tools, experience, and opportunities to further myself as a professional and open my eyes to the job opportunities that Iowa has to offer!